Developing Better Eating Habits
(Content provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics which coordinates the National Nutrition Month Campaign).
Research has shown that healthy eating patterns, which include the recommended amounts from each food group, can have a positive effect on our health. For example, healthy eating patterns have been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and overweight and obesity. An eating pattern that is higher in vegetables and fruits has been associated with a reduced risk of several chronic diseases, including heart disease.
While all food groups are important and contribute important nutrients – fruits and vegetables – which MyPlate recommends should make up half of our plate at each meal.
Many Americans don’t get enough servings of produce. It is estimated that only 25 percent of people in the United States include adequate amounts of vegetables and fruits. According to the 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment, only 6% of Franklin County residents consume 3 servings of vegetables daily.
More Produce Matters
Vegetables and fruits provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Examples include, vitamin C, folate, potassium, magnesium, and beta-carotene. All of these have important functions in the body and help to maintain or improve our health. A variety of different colored produce is recommended in order to obtain the different nutrients they provide. Whole fruits and vegetables are also good sources of dietary fiber. And all forms count – fresh, frozen, canned and dried.
Produce is also low in calories (depending on how it’s prepared, of course). For this reason, including more vegetables and fruits may help with weight management, especially if they are substituted for other higher calorie foods. Fruits and vegetables are also a great resource in the kitchen! Fruits are naturally sweet and can help with reducing sources of added sugars. Vegetables can be used to enhance the flavor and texture of foods and at the same time expand the variety of foods we eat.
Everyone’s nutrition needs are a little bit different. Our age, gender and activity level are all factors that can influence how much of the different food groups we need to consume throughout the day.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, for most people, this amounts to
- 1 to 2 cups of fruit
- 1 ½ to 3 cups of vegetables
And that’s every day!
In addition to the daily targets for vegetables, there are also weekly recommendations for sub-groups, including dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, starchy, and other types.
(People who are more physically active have higher calorie needs, so the amounts of fruits and vegetables recommended may be even higher. Visit the MyPlate website at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov or www.choosemyplate.gov/multilanguage-spanish for more information).
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